Saturday morning

I’m reading a novel and I can’t tell you about it yet, but I’m really enjoying it. In amongst everything else of the day-to-day that I natter about here I don’t often post about the happy-happy-joy-joy, so I do want to tell you about this book and I will, just not yet.

It’s 6.20am here. I’ve been awake since about 3.30am, though for no especially good reason. I woke up, my mind started nagging at some potential issues and that was it. I tossed, I turned, I got up, I went back to bed.  I did everything except sleep. I even did some data backup from my current PC to get ready for the Windows upgrade, which for no logical reason has been going round and round in my mind.

More soon…

Microsoft, I just might hate you…

So, last year I decided it was time for a computer upgrade. I seriously – well, okay, lackadaisically I admit – considered getting a new MacBook or iMac and not bothering with a Windows desktop.  I think now I probably should have done that.  But a new machine was built for me, my old machine was upgraded for Marianne, and Marianne’s machine was pretty much completely rebuilt for the kids.

It wasn’t an especially smooth transition, to be honest.  We decided to add Windows 7 to the new machines and, since it was available, used the official Release Candidate 1 (RC1) for this purpose.  We tried the new version of Office, but rolled back to the 2003 version almost immediately because the new version of Office is a horrible amalgamation of Mac-esque features with a Windows product and, frankly, just pissed me off. When I use MS Word I want MS Word. It’s like being a blacksmith and wanting a hammer.  I need to hit things – in this case words – and I know what I want to hit them with, and it doesn’t come with effing ribbons.

Anyhows, we brought in the new machines, we implemented Windows 7. I learnt to live with the annoyance of the new desktop not talking to the old MacBook and things slowly settled down. Till now.  RC1, for those who don’t know, expires in March. You have to buy an official copy of Windows 7 and you’ll be right.  Fine. I don’t begrudge MS their $$s for their product. It’s expensive developing software and since I have the product I’ll pay for it.

BUT.  But it turns out that to upgrade from Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 to Windows 7 you have to reinstall the operating system. Not put in a license key (like any sane effing product), not run a disk in the disk drive to add a few extra files, but backup all your data, reformat the hard drive, reinstall the OS, put your data back on your machine, and then go through all of the damn customisations you spent the last few months getting just right again because these people have taken such a ridiculous attitude.

To say I am pissed off at Microsoft is an understatement.  I’ll do the re-install etc (well, Gordon will) this weekend and we’ll see how it goes, but if it’s a horrorshow I’ve bought my last Windows based product. I’ve had three years running a MacBook and I’m pretty comfortable with Apple, so it’s not a major cost to move on.  What a clusterfuck.

What I mean when I say ‘safe space’

I started going to conventions in 1986 when I attended Swancon XI. The people at Swancon XII welcomed me and, for the most part, made me feel that I was in a safe space; somewhere I could express myself, be involved, and not feel like I was likely to be judged or harmed.

I attended every Swancon for the next twenty years, and then became an occasional attendee as work and family life demanded more of my time. However, despite that I’ve usually wanted to attend each year and have enjoyed the times when I’ve been able to.

I was greatly disturbed, therefore, to hear increasing reports that Swancon was not a safe place: not safe for women, not safe for children, and often not even a place where people could express their thoughts without fear of censure or judgement.   It seemed to me, as I discussed this with a friend, that here was a problem that people like me needed to own, to do something about.  And the way to do something is not to point to other people, to name convention committees as people who should do things, or whatever (though those things may have a place).  It’s for people like me (and you, if you attend conventions) to stand up and speak out against unacceptable behaviours, to be present and to make convention environments as safe a space as they reasonably can be.

I mention this now because I was appalled to read a little while ago about the case reported on Crankynick’s blog about a woman who had been raped at a Swancon by someone she’d met at a Swancon. Apparently the perpetrator has admitted that he has done this and is unrepentant.  I don’t know enough of the details to know what happened, and in this instance, I’m not sure I need to know more than I do.  An attendee at a convention has been grievously treated and the person who did this has admitted it.  That, it seems to me, is completely unacceptable in modern society (or damned well should be).

Crankynick suggests on  this blog that we need to say this in public and private:

This man is not welcome at SwanCon.  If he attends he’s going to have a shit time. We will shun and ignore him for the most part, and humiliate him in public if that’s what it takes. If he attends alone he will stay that way, and if he attends with friends they too will be shunned and ignored while they continue to publicly support a man who has sexually assaulted a member of our community. The victim of this assault is not to blame, shouldn’t have to deal with this on her own, and shouldn’t even have to goddam ask for our support.

I join Nick in this.  This story is appalling (details are here). The man who has done this is not welcome.  The behaviour he has engaged in must not be tolerated. To the extent that I am involved in conventions I agree: this man is not ‘one of my people’, he is not someone I want near me, my family or anyone else. I reject him and call on you to do this same.

I would also apologise to Logansrogue, who I don’t think I’ve ever met, for how badly we have failed her and others like her.  If Swancons — if any science fiction conventions — are to continue it must be on the basis that it is understood that this will NOT be tolerated.

As to what I mean when I say say ‘safe space’ – I mean somewhere any person can go and not feel like they will be physically or emotionally harmed.  Plainly Swancon has not been that kind of place.

ETA: It was pointed out to me that the events related did not occur at a Swancon, though the people in question did meet at a Swancon. While it’s important to be factually correct, this does not change the point at all.

Leiber selected stories is almost done…

Way back when in August 2008 I flew out to Oakland to spend some time with Charles on my way to the Denver WorldCon. On the Saturday afternoon Jeremy Lassen of Night Shade came up to the house and we drank beer, laughed and talked science fiction for hours.

In amongst the beer, laughter and doing an online interview for Conflux’s Minicon, I agreed to do three books for Night Shade. One was a reprint anthology of dragon stories, Wings of Fire, and one was a ‘best of’ volume of stories by the late, great Fritz Leiber. I remember sitting there and looking across the table and realising that Charles had to be involved with the Leiber book. He’d known Fritz well, and knew his work intimately. I also wanted a chance to work on something with him again, just as thing for friends to be doing.

Jeremy was enthusiastic about the idea, and Charles was too. The very next day he arranged for us to have dinner with Fritz’s agent and, before we’d got to dessert, we were set. Charles and I would select the stories, and Charles would ask Neil Gaiman if he’d do the introduction. The paperwork took a little while, as it always, does, but Charles and I began back and forthing on the length of the book, possible contents etc etc.

As I recall, we’d got to an almost final list of stories when I got the phone call from Liza that Charles had died. It threw the project into something of a loop for me for a while, but when things had settled I looked over the list we had and made, I think, one change. I also did some shuffling in running order, which was revised again following a helpful note from Marty Halpern.

 And now, a year and a half after that first conversation Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories is complete. Night Shade has just released the cover, which I love, and the book itself should be out in April. I’m very, very proud of the book, and am happy to have it stand as something of an end note to a long friendship that a valued very highly.  And should anyone ever wonder, it was very much a collaboration, right to the end. I wish Charles had lived to see the book done, but I’m glad it exists and that we did it together. I’m also grateful to Jeremy and the Shade for their work on it, and to Liza and the Locus gang who helped with the book at the end.